A few days ago Archbishop Desmond Tutu died. More than anything he was known to fight for what is morally right – and doing so in a non-violent way. I think this is very important; it played a big part in bringing down the apartheid regime in South Africa (though remains of it still lingers).
But even more important and inspiring, I find his message of compassion, of doing good, of reconciliation and of embracing that we are one people on the planet. That we need to do what is good and right. A man who saw his country suffer and still believed in healing and building bridges.
When we see others as the enemy, we risk becoming what we hate. When we oppress others, we end up oppressing ourselves. All of our humanity is dependent upon recognizing the humanity in others.Desmond Tutu
He lead The Truth and Reconciliation Commission to promote forgiveness and reconciliation by facing the things that happened. Bringing the truth to people’s attention, allowing victims and perpetrators to meet. From what I have read, this work was very draining and hard for him, and yet he did so because he believed that this was the right thing. That we need to build bridges, to forgive and to embrace differences.
I think we need this today; maybe more than we ever did. Sometimes it feels like our world is becoming more divided, more alienated. That we see others almost as enemies; that we fear what is not from us. That even a thing like covid is splitting us into different sections. And so many nationalist parties are getting traction all over the world; wanting to protect “our own” over what “the others” are bringing, sometimes to keep the others out, sometimes just to keep things as they “have always been“. Which is kind of interesting as nothing we do today is as it has always been. We have not always lived in houses, we have not always celebrated Christmas, we have not always had borders. Even the fact that we have borders is something that we humans invented – to some extend it is an artificial line in the sand…
And while we are different, we are also the same: we are all humans and it would be good if we could see that and we could embrace that our differences can help us. None of us can do all the things; I may have good listening skills, but I cannot work with my hands… Just as one example.
So maybe we should read some of the things Desmond Tutu said and take them to heart, like this quote:
Differences are not intended to separate, to alienate. We are different precisely in order to realize our need of one another.Desmond Tutu
We do need each other; we can do so much good for each other and while we cannot do everything, we can do something. I tend to want to save the whole world, to make the world a better place, to have people respect, accept, and embrace each other. This is what I have wanted for a long time – most of my life. And we can do something:
If we do things that matter a little to us, and a lot to someone else, we can make the world a better placeMe at 9 years old
It can be very small things like holding the door for someone that carries stuff; smiling at someone and make them feel seen; spend ten min to give someone a lift instead of them spend half an hour on the bus; doing things that matter. And it all adds up in the end.
Don’t just take my word for it. I will end with another quote from Desmond Tutu, who will hopefully be remembered for his kindness, his laughter and his compassion as well as his politics. And may we build the bridges it takes to make the world better.
Do your little bit of good where you are; it’s those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.Desmond Tutu
Blog post for the first day of Christmas 21/22: Love is all around
Blog post for the second day of Christmas 21/22: The Voice of Reason
Blog post for the third day of Christmas 21/22: Resting to get headspace
Blogpost for the fifth day of Christmas 21/22: Wrapping up things